Nottingham Panthers challenge is new for Sheffield Steelers boss

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Paul Thompson’s first period with Steelers pre-dated any of the classic Sheffield v Nottingham Panthers ‘derbies.’

But now a born-again Steeler in charge of the team, he’s relishing this coming Saturday’s visit of the club’s greatest rival.

Thompson was a defenceman for Steelers from 1991-3, as the newly-created club started its ascent up the hockey ladder. He never played against Panthers for Sheffield adding: “I was on the bench looking at them in my kit in Solihull a few times!

“Now I’m really looking forward to it, we’re two teams in form. We have won seven in a row now, hopefully it will be a packed barn. It is always special. Everybody is talking about it, people are talking about it in the changing room. They are a great club. I know this club and Nottingham have been going back and forth, back and forth. When we were at Coventry we took the limelight from the big boys and now I’m one of the big boys and looking forward to locking horns with them.”

Thompson said he rated Panthers for their “very skilled offensive players.” He had also impressed by their Swedish goalie Miika Wiikman, who has played at a high level in Europe and north America. However, it was their British contingent that impressed the former GB coach the most. He accepted they had a home grown unit to rival Sheffield’s, but added: “I don’t think right now anybody is close to Ben O’Connor in the way he is playing. He is just leading the way as the top British player. But they have some very good British players. Bringing (Matt) Myers back (from Cardiff) they invested very heavily in that.”

Tyler Mosienko bagged the limelight on Sunday; his two goals which beat Belfast Giants. Thompson remarked: “The big thing for me was Jonathan Phillips. We had a set play after a lost face off, he just doesn’t quit. He turns the puck over and starts the whole thing running and Mosey jams one in from that. The little things off the puck from people like him and his work-rate don’t always get looked at.”

Paul Thompson in full flow

Paul Thompson in full flow

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